A few weeks ago our friend Reg asked me to make him a table to replace the damaged middle seat of a corner suite he has.
The brief was fairly straightforward, it had to measure 24" x 30" and be 20" high, materials or finish were not important as it was going to be painted white; all he really wanted was something to put a lamp & his laptop on.
Anyone who has seen my previous 'ible about furniture I have built will know I am a great fan of recycling & salvaging so this seemed like a good opportunity to give a new lease of life to some timber I had acquired from one of the members of my local Freegle group a couple of months earlier when I was building some beds for our grandsons.
One of the beds was a standard 3' single, the other was essentially a mini version custom built to fit into our bedroom alongside our bed for our two year old grandson Ryan to sleep in when he stays over, my better half Joanie calls it "his three bears bed" not too big & not too small but just right.
Some of the donor timber for these came from a set of 2' 6" bunks & I still had some of the mattress slats which were of course 30" long so it seemed fated that they should continue their working life as a table top.
These along with a few other left overs from the bunks as well as the remains of the legs became the core of Reg's new table.
As I said Reg's brief was quite straightforward, however as I was sketching out ideas in my head that evening I I decided to add a couple of things to it.
The first was to make this table for nothing or as close to nothing as I could, This meant sticking to a few rules.
1. I was as far as was practical only going to use things that I already had in the workshop.
2. As far as possible I would only use materials that were either salvaged or in some way recycled.
3. In the event that I didn't have the right materials to hand I would limit spending to a maximum of £5.00.
The second addition to his brief was really more about the tables intended position & use than anything else & will become clear later on.
Step 1: Table Top.
The first job was to construct the table top, I know some people would start with the frame but I had something a bit "different" in mind for this table so the frame was going to be built to fit the top.
This was simply a case of attaching the slats to two battens that suitably enough had previously been slat support rails on one of the bunks, the slats already had screw holes so I used them partly because it saved having to fill them later & partly because having the battens right at the edge of the table top suited my plans.
Once this was done I fixed another slat using a couple of salvaged brass door hinges, the reason for the hinges will become clear later on.
Step 2: Starting the Frame.
First job was to cut the legs to length & fill the holes left by the screws & mortices when they were part of a bunk frame & leave them overnight to set.
I then fixed two each to battens to make the long sides of the frame, these then had another of the slats cut to fit between the side rails of the top & were then screwed to the hinged slat on the table top.
I then removed the frame from the table top as both sections still had a bit more to be done to them.
Step 3: Add a Shelf.
As this table was going into a corner & would be hidden on two sides with walls & the other two with sofas a shelf may seem a bit redundant, I could have saved time & materials just putting stretchers between the legs but I had two things in mind, an additional feature that Reg hadn't asked for & the fact that just because it was being made to go into a corner suite that didn't mean it would always be there & a shelf under a small table is always handy.
The shelf was a simple construction, two pieces left over from the side rails of the bunks with three battens fixed underneath to hold them together, another piece of bed slat was then fixed to each end to fix it to the frame.
Step 4: Back to Work on the Top.
With the frame pretty much done it was time to go back to work on the table top & get it ready for fitting.
First job, take my nice tight table top & saw it in two.
I cut a the battens at 45 degrees taking two of the slats off the end leaving me with one small & one large section, the larger of the two will be fitted to the hinges.
Some of you will be saying to yourselves "Ahh now I see what he's doing" for the benefit of those how haven't yet seen why I'm doing this I'll give a brief explanation.
You will remember that this table is to go into a corner & will be surrounded on all sides with walls & furniture, Reg wants to use it for his laptop & maybe a table lamp which will need to be plugged in at the mains, I did a bit of checking with Reg & wasn't in the least bit surprised to hear that the nearest sockets to the table were right in the corner where it was going to stand making them a royal pain in the neck to get to.
Groping around under tables to get to wall sockets isn't fun at the best of times but when those sockets are in a corner behind a heavy wooden table surrounded by sofas it's even worse.
With this in mind I decided that Reg's table should have an extra feature that removed some of the problem so I chose to give it a hinged top to enable him to get to his sockets far more easily, of course seeing that he will be able to get under the table simply by lifting the top adding the shelf now makes a bit more sense, having a bit more storage space is never a bad Idea after all.
Step 5: A Handy Little Addition.
As I mentioned the sockets where Reg will be plugging in his laptop & lamp are in the corner where the table will be sitting so even with a lift up top it struck me they may still be a little awkward to get to.
To really make life easy I wanted to avoid any fiddling around so I decided to add an extension lead with a nice long flex on it that way he wont have to struggle to get to the wall.
I picked up a three point extension from Poundland that seemed ideal for the job, I figured that would be sufficient for a laptop & lamp & leave one spare for a phone charger or whatever Reg needs.
The 18" flex it came with seemed a bit stingy so I took that off & replaced it with about 6' of 6amp flex from an old extension reel & fixed it in place with a couple of bits of heavy duty Velcro so he can remove it he wants to use the table without it.
Step 6: The Finished Table.
With the extension in place all that was left was to refit the hinged section attach the small two slat section & it was all finished.
I'm not a big fan of painting wood so I was pleased that Reg asked me to leave that to him, if I had built this table for myself I would probably still paint the legs as the scars from screw holes & mortices are plain ugly but then it wasn't going to be painted I would probably found something else for the legs anyway.
The top however I would certainly have finished with a varnish, I have a beautiful antique pine varnish in mind that would really show the timber used for the top in all it's glory.
So how did I do on the budget?
Well the timber cost about eight miles worth of fuel, but then I did collect it for another project which was completed to everyone's satisfaction & all I used was some of the left overs so in that respect it cost nothing.
Most of the screws I used also cost nothing as they were salvaged from other things I have dismantled (I never throw anything away that I can reuse) the 30 or so new ones I used were bought online in bulk so I guess they cost about 30p in total.
The extension lead came from Poundland & the replacement cable was salvaged from another lead so that cost the princely sum of £1.00.
I only used adhesive on one section of the table & that costs around £1.50 a tube so I would estimate it cost around 20p.
The filler costs around £1.50 & again I can only estimate it but I would say around 70p for that.
I used ten nails another 10p.
Delivering it to Reg who lives about three miles from me, lets be really generous and say £1.00 for the round trip.
Total £3.30, however if I stick to the original point that I would only count the things I didn't already have in the workshop then its only really fuel & the extension lead so the real cost would be £2.00, not bad for a nice solid table that should last for a good few years.
It will do the job Reg wanted as well as having a couple of features that will make using it a bit easier, it's sturdy enough to take a few knocks but light enough to move around quite easily so would be perfect to lift out for board games, a few beers while watching the football, TV dinners or whatever.
If Reg sends me some pictures when he has given it a paint job I'll add them into this step.
One more thing I should add.
At the time of writing this Reg hasn't seen his table yet so as soon as this 'ible goes online I'm going to email him the URL & see what he thinks.
I hope he likes it...